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Gibb Sahib Origins: Where is Vallipo Bay? (Randy Dandy o!) (15) RE: Origins: Where is Vallipo Bay? (Randy Dandy o!) 18 Oct 19


Hi Kristoffer,

Thanks for your comment! To clarify my footnote: I emphasized not tinkering but rather FREEZING of form as part of the Folk Music Process.

The process began with Hugill putting down verses. Now, some writers, and certainly those with academic background, would only put down the words they heard sung. But Hugill was not an academic; he was writing a "popular" book. Fair enough.

Hugill wrote down verses, at times, as one might be performing. I see him as though "performing" his written text.

I can relate to Hugill through my own experience as a performer. When I begin to sing a chanty in an informal context, I usually don't know where I am going with it. The first verse is likely to be some verse commonly linked to the song...
Oh roll the cotton down my boys
    roll the cotton down
yeah roll the cotton down my boys
    oh roll the cotton down!

Then my mind starts searching for what verse my mind might hit on. Having recently read this thread, I might sing,
We're outward bund for Vallipo Bay
    roll the cotton down
Get cracking lads, it's a helluva way
   oh roll the cotton down!

Then, pressed to produce the next verse, I might fall into something related and easy,
Have you been to Vallipo?
Around Cape Horn through the ice and snow?

Having already known where I was going with that by the end of the first half, my brain is free to be more daring, to make up something more from scratch...
Oh folk song books are good for some
But I'd rather the talking came from rum

Cheesey and cringey? Yes. Anachronistic? Well, I'm not presenting an historical artifact; I'm singing in the moment. And, before you can cringe, I'm on to the next:

Come on, come over you, Sally Brown
And help us roll the cotton down

Now my audience is wondering what book I read that in. Of course, I didn't read it in any; it's just a randomly constructed verse that fits, stylistically. Suddenly, my prior line is a little less cheesy.

I suggest there was something of this "performer's process" that Hugill went through when he fleshed out his book. In subsequent drafts, he edited out, I imagine, some of the really cheesy ones, but he left in verses that pointed to topics he was interested in addressing (e.g. the guano trade).

So Hugill's popular book is really something created by a performer and designed for performers to play with. It's not something to go to to get firm historical information or to see documented songs as-performed.

The Folk Music process takes over when the medium (Hugill's book) is taken up by many, all of whom reproduce its song verbatim. And maybe a few audio-record their verbatim reproduction, which inspires more verbatim reproduction. Even without these media, in a direct oral-transmission situation, new learners will attempt verbatim reproduction. Few are modelling anything different. (I've been asked, "What version is that you sang?" Me: What do you mean by "version"? I just sang what I just sang.)

I have no problem with the verse about Vallipo Bay in a performance (i.e. a performance that is not trying to represent an historical artifact). What I tend to tire of is the *performances* that will ask me to hear about Vallipo Bay every time I hear about Randy Dandy. That's just my personal, aesthetic issue. As an academic issue, I notice more that the freezing of Vallipo Bay into Randy Dandy does exactly what Hugill may have hoped -- to make us connect Randy Dandy with the Chile/Peru trade. BUT at the same time the deep freeze, through so many reproductions, makes it hard to think, to interpret, songs like this in any other way. I'm aware I am coming on ridiculously strong here in a simple clarification post ! Where this is coming from is the belief that all these minor instances, song by song, add up to a BIG picture that becomes difficult to view alternatively.

Was Hugill responsible for including the verse (tinkering?)? Or were we responsible for reproducing it verbatim?

Either way, I really wonder what Harding the Barbadian's singing sounded like!


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